II. Marketing: Getting your message out there
A. Why a marketing approach works
Marketing is making offers to people to do something valuable in exchange for something valuable. Originally developed to meet the needs of industrial and domestic producers and consumers, marketing is now a basic tool in use by savvy environmentalists. After all, the other side is trying to sway opinion, so why not use marketing methods to introduce and reinforce the facts?
Here is one simple example of why marketing is of value to your cause. In retail marketing I offer to sell you a loaf of bread in exchange for $2.99. In karst rapid response marketing, I ask authorities to modify or abandon a development that can either wreck a cave or inflict economic hardship on others, in exchange for their upholding the law or serving the public interest.
There are three basic marketing strategies for karst defenders to consider when developing a rapid response plan:
1. Market Segmentation Strategy: Marketers sort consumers into groups, termed “segments,” that will benefit from an offered product or service. Each segment may be targeted with appeals that are specific to that segment.
Karst rapid responders can use this strategy with specific appeals supporting constructive behavior from each group involved. For instance, the government segment is offered an opportunity to fulfill its duty by upholding the law, in exchange for making a decision that a developer will find unpopular: “Do the right and legal thing, even though the cost is an unhappy developer.”
At the same time, the taxpayer segment is offered an appeal supporting an economical outcome: “No taxes to pay for karst collapse or flooding,” as a better choice than the developer’s unsupported promise to bring jobs and progress to the community.
2. Offer Differentiation Strategy: The offer consists of the product, service, or decision itself PLUS all the benefits accompanying decision. Both the tangible and intangible values are beneficially different from the decision the developer wants. As an example, we propose that the developer post a bond that certain foundation investigations will be performed instead of relying on a promise that can be reneged upon without recourse later.
3. Competitive Positioning Strategy: Positioning is how the deciders view all competitors on each important buying factor. In karst rapid response marketing, the decider may be a government agency such as a planning board. The competitors are the developer and his plans on one hand, and those who oppose or advocate modifications to the developer’s plans on the other hand. Important buying factors can be technical facts (is the formal application complete and accurate?), perception of the technical competence of the competitors, and understanding of the legality of the proposals. Many government body decisions are made on the perceived reputation of the competitors and the political consequences of angering the competitors.
Effective marketing uses a combination of all three marketing strategies, emphasizing one or two. Keep in mind that, while you can sell anything if you can increase perceived value over perceived cost in the minds of deciders, sticking with the facts is the best strategy. Let the other side exaggerate and prevaricate: always stay on the high road.
Tactical tools of marketing include one-way informing and two-way negotiating. We will explore each of these in turn as they relate to rapid response karst and cave advocacy.